… to Kanchi. Did you think I would let go of this space so easily? 😉
I have been planning to wind up the Kanchi series, but a lot came up in between. Also, it would not do justice to just post the pictures of the temples, and not write about the legend behind them. Long story cut short, today is the day. 😉
Kanchi Kamakshi, Madurai Meenakshi, Kashi Vishalakshi – this one line is part of almost all hymns/ songs invoking the Shakti aspect of the divine. Goes on to show the pride of place that the temple dedicated to Goddess Kamakshi, the one the town is most famous for, occupies.
We couldn’t take enough pictures because there was some renovation work going on when we visited, but this one picture speaks enough.
And ofcourse, the darshan of the Goddess draped in a green silk saree will always be etched in our minds.
We started our Kanchi sojourn with a visit to the Kamakshi temple, and followed it up with a quick visit to the Ekambareswarar temple.
We had reached Kanchi pretty early, but had to rush through, since most temples closed by 12-12.30pm and given the large area across which the ancient temples are spread, you need atleast 20-30 minutes to even reach the sanctum. We were told that the Ekambareswarar temple is spread over 40 acres of land (some say it’s 20).
The trip was mainly to attend a friend’s wedding near Vellore in the evening, so we couldn’t really wait for the temples to reopen their doors. Exactly why we had decided to only visit 3-4 of them, and spend atleast some time soaking it all in.
The Ekambareswar temple houses a Shiva Linga made from river sand, and it’s Gopuram is supposed to be one of the tallest temple towers in South India.
“Legend has it that once Parvati was performing tapas under the temple’s ancient Mango Tree. In order to test her devotion, Lord Shiva sent fire on her. Goddess Parvati prayed to Lord Vishnu for help. In order to save her, he took the Moon from Lord Shiva’s head and showed the rays which then cooled down the tree as well as Parvati.
After that, Lord Shiva sent river Ganga to disrupt Parvati’s tapas. Parvati prayed to Ganga and convinced her that both of them were sisters and so the latter should not harm her. Ganga did not disturb her penance after that. Then Parvati made a Shiva Linga out of sand and got united with Lord Shiva.
According to another legend, it is believed that Parvati worshipped Shiva in the form of a Prithivi Lingam (or a Lingam improvised out of sand), under a mango tree. Legend has it that the neighboring Vegavati river overflowed and threatened to engulf the Shiva Lingam and that Parvati or Kamakshi embraced the Lingam. Shiva touched by the gesture materialized in person and married her. In this context he is referred to as Tazhuva kuzhainthaar (“He who melted in Her embrace”) in Tamil.”
Our last temple for the day, or rather the trip itself, was the Varadaraja Perumal temple.
This temple is very well known for, hold your breath, two sacred lizards carved on the ceiling, one each in gold and silver, touching which are known to rid you of all the adverse effects. You will not believe me if I tell you that queue for touching the lizards was lnoger than that to catch a glimpse of the main deity of the temple. 🙂 I do think that this sheds light on how our ancestors respected each and every creation, and believed that each one played a significant role in maintaining the ecological equilibrium.
There are many legends associated with the temple, including the one which says that the two lizards were actually disciples of Gautama Maharishi, who were cursed by Lord Vishnu to become lizards. They resided in this temple, and were relieved of the curse by him too. You can read the other legends here. Too lazy to type them out, and these seem closest to what we heard. 🙂
A huge temple compex again, and I can never forget the yummy, spicy Puliyogare that we had here. 😉
We did visit a couple of stores and bought a saree each for the two mothers, before leaving to Vellore. My thumb rule when I visit places that are weaving hubs, especially when you are not directly in touch with any weavers or people who known them, is to buy stuff from the weaver co-operatives, since they are the most genuine sources and give the weaver his due too. I do wish to go on a weaving trail itelf next time. For this trip, we had done more than we thought, and it was time to leave to Vellore. Before I wind up this post, I must tell you about the Vellore temple, which is a spectacle in itself. Again, loads of walking, but worth every step. Like Su says, we were fortunate to have reached at a time when there was enough light to feast on the greenery all around, and also be marvelled by the spectacular views the golden temple offers during the dark, with all the lights on.
Do put these on your must visit list, and you can thank me later. 😛 😛